by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy
This week is a week of Oak Tree Press mysteries. We have Murder’s Last Resort by Marta Chausee & Sea-Duction: A Jake Mortensen Mystery By Douglas Danielson, and in another post in this issue we have a review of License To Lie by Terry Ambrose along with an interview with Terry. Details on how to win copies of both of these books at the end of this post.
Murder’s Last Resort by Marta Chausee
Review by Sandra Murphy
You’d think being married to the manager of a posh hotel in Florida would be sunny days by the pool, umbrella drinks served on a tray and mani/pedis on demand but it’s harder than it looks. Caught in the middle, the wife has to make nice with tourists who want a memorable vacation, returning guests, dignitaries and the rich and/or famous. That’s the easy part. The hard part is when all the managers and bosses descend on the hotel for a big meeting and you have to be nice to them too, even the ones who are less than politically correct and way too touchy-feely.
Once you’ve found a dead body, still in formal attire no less, mixed in with the dirty laundry, things have a tendency to go downhill from there. The main thing is to keep the bad news from guests and employees alike. Littering the hotel grounds and hallways with police officers impersonating gardeners and cleaning crew is supposed to help. That should be the hotel manager’s job. The husband’s job. When Hubert French, the manager and husband in question, is arrested for the murder, it becomes the wife’s job. Maya’s up for the challenge with the help of her BFFs Jake and Lily.
Maya’s got her hands full though, what with two police detectives who are not exactly thrilled with her help which they view as interference. It’s not like she’s doing this for fun—who’d get chloroformed, left by the dumpster at a neighboring hotel, shot (grazed, but it counts), and threatened for anything but love? French is released from jail which should help clear things up—except there’s another murder. Convenient that he’s available as a suspect!
French doesn’t come home but leaves a message that he’s on the trail of a clue himself. The police take a different view and consider him to be on the lam. In order to find the murder before all the suspects return home, Maya and crew have to step up their game.
Maya is a character you’d like to meet, as are Jake, Lily and French. Some of the others, not so much, which is pretty much the opinion Maya has of them but what can you do? You have to work with these people. Early on, I picked a suspect and stuck with that choice through the book. There’s a nice scattering of clues and I followed them. Wow, was I surprised when they didn’t lead to my suspect. I switched suspects twenty pages from the end. I was still wrong. I love a book like that—make me think but don’t get outlandish with the ways and means and have good characters. Cozy mysteries usually limit themselves to two murders—this one has more but not blood and gore so it’s a cozy plus.
This book is the first in what I hope is a series. I want to see what Maya, Lily and Jake are up to next and if French gets to be a bigger part of their plots and plans next time out.
Sea-Duction: A Jake Mortensen Mystery By Douglas Danielson
Review by Cynthia Chow
Land lubbers and sailors alike will enjoy this sea-worthy sequel to Danielson’s Shore Loser. One would think that the life as a yacht captain in 1995 San Diego would be ideal for a lover of the ocean. However, when Jake Mortensen is asked by his roommate’s girlfriend to look into threats being made against Buddy, the Vietnam vet is frustratingly vague and reluctant to even admit the existence of menacing letters that may be tied to the war from over twenty years ago. Just as menacing, but perhaps more interesting, is the request from his boss and owner of Papa’s Toy, San Diego Police Commissioner Virgil Lee Klean, to look into the disappearance of his friend’s daughter, Pricilla Willow. Not wanting to embarrass himself or his daughter by officially involving the police in the investigation, the wealthy developer is far more concerned that Pricilla was last seen on the Sea-Duction, a yacht whose name alone would indicate that her disappearance was voluntary.
Jake, agreeing to look into these matters, puts him at definite odds with his lady love, middle-school teacher Toey Wong. With their relationship already in jeopardy due to his “clumsy Mortensen ways,” not involving the authorities even after their lives are endangered does not bode well. Soon Jake discovers that the activities on the hedonistic yacht may have ties back to the darkest of events of the Vietnam War despite the attempts of those involved to forget.
The author’s love and extensive knowledge of yachting and sea life is evident in this mystery, as details effectively recreate this unique lifestyle on water. Jake is a loyal if not always sensible friend who acts first and considers the repercussions later. This is a fun mystery with a unique viewpoint and the author isn’t afraid to venture into exploring darker themes in what is otherwise a light-hearted mystery.
To enter to win these 2 Oak Tree mysteries, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “Oak”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 11, 2013. U.S. residents only.
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